The resurgence of manufacturing following the crash of 2008 is “unprecedented,” according to AMT-The Association For Manufacturing Technology. In late December, the organization noted that the 2011 total for manufacturing technology orders was $463.32 million—an increase of 80.5 percent compared to 2010 and the second-highest dollar amount in the past 15 years. As of October, manufacturing technology orders had already surpassed the total value accumulated in 2007.
The boost in manufacturing technology orders is especially significant because orders in manufacturing technology, which provides the foundation for all other manufacturing, can be a reliable leading economic indicator, says Douglas K. Woods, president of AMT. He cites a number of reasons for the increase, including a rush among manufacturers to beat the end-of-year bonus depreciation deadline; low inventories going into the recession; rising exports; a weaker dollar; increased average age of machinery in use at U.S. facilities (currently 13.5 years, compared to 9 in 2007); and the reshoring phenomenon.
“The factors fueling this tremendous surge are the traditional reasons that drive growth in investment, but what is unusual about the current rebound is that all factors have come together at one time,” Mr. Woods says. “This is something that’s never been seen before and as a result, we are seeing a true renaissance for manufacturing in the U.S.” The outlook for 2012 remains positive, he adds, although the Unites States still must address the lack of skilled labor to fill manufacturing jobs as well as trade, tax and regulatory barriers to competitiveness.